Top Ten Hollywood Films

While it is true that Hollywood is a tight box that suffocates individual vision, it also allows for the expense and crew that can make for a distraction worth watching.

10. The Poseidon Adventure (Neame, 1972) You’re going the wrong way!

9. The Fifth Element (Besson, 1997) Multipass.

8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977) Goofy Golf!

7. Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993) Stay…stay.

6. Jaws (Spielberg, 1975) Just eats and sleeps and makes little baby sharks.

5. Rocky (Stallone, 1976) Women weaken legs!

4. The Sound of Music (Wise,1965) Nothing comes from nothing.

3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Hughes, 1987) You’re going the wrong way! 2. The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939) Surrender Dorothy

1. Cast Away (Zemeckis, 2000) I know you.


Sister, Sister, Wherever You Have Gone

I remember when we bounced in the big chair to The Partridge Family and K-Tel’s Fantastic 22. tumblr_mjarkw5lm31r5yoejo1_r1_1280And I remember when we threw the little metal Santa Claus too high and it smashed through the window and we all ran. IMAG2188There were the trips to the cottage, the puzzles, the rain, the boat trips across the lake.

20140729_161648I remember your pained expressions too, you not wanting to be there, anywhere but with your dumb siblings, away with the crowd, all the excitement and things like that. weenAnd I remember not liking you so much for any of that. But it’s just kid’s stuff now, right? We move on, yes? 20140524_151436I mean, if you hold things too tight, they drive right into you and there’s nothing left, just petty agendas, seeing everything in the world, except where you came from. Dorothy's Red ShoesAnd that just goes on until you get to the end and then you wonder what happened.

My Witch History

I was scared of the Hansel and Gretel Witch when I was a kid, but then Bugs Bunny took care of her. My Witch HistoryThe Wicked Witch of the West was the source of my first existential moment, but she never out and out terrified me. My Witch HistoryOddly enough, Witchiepoo on H.R. Pufnstuf did. Her castle wasn’t believable and her bumbling servants were irritating, but there was still something unsettling about her. My Witch HistoryOr maybe I was just jacked up on too much sugar. My Witch HistoryAnd then there was Samantha on Bewitched. My Witch HistoryAfter that, witches just lost their wickedness. My Witch History

Oh Joy! Rapture! Wizard of Oz in 3D

The Wizard of Oz is not so much a spectacle as it is a wonder. scarecrow1It is the details of the enterprise – recently re-released in 3D – the dialogue and characters as much as the make-up and set design. WitchesCastle2

When Dorothy plummets with her house into Oz, after the whirling symphonic chaos of the twister, the sequence ends in dead silence broken by Dorothy blurting, “Oh!”Screenshot (24)These small and wonderful things punctuate the film. A lonely peacock wanders around the Tinman’s house. The Cowardly Lion sings of genuflecting chipmunks. A flying monkey’s face is immersed in poisonous smoke. And Toto, energetically wagging his tail, is in almost every shot, following the troupe on their quest.

Toto watches over all

Toto watching over all

Yes, the songs and dance numbers are something to behold, but in the end, it’s really all in the fluffy green gloves.

Oz Guard's Fluffy Green Gloves

Oz Guard’s Fluffy Green Gloves

Fashion for the Apocalypse

I have to admit that my second book, Fashion for the Apocalypse (1990), is weighed down by excessively elocuted elocrubrations: To describe the beauty of the lake in winter was to strangle the infinite.

Ahmic Lake

Ahmic Lake, Canada

True, the woods did whisper, the ice did blind, the moon did blaze, but these words did not suffice, could not transfer the moment to existence, would never contain the wonder of the silence of sliding feet, the crackle of skimming blades, the scream of a straining engine.

Ahmic Lake, Canada

Ahmic Lake, Canada

The writing in Fashion for the Apocalypse is not all bad…or at least as bad:

“The Fear” first hit me was when I was six, watching “The Wizard of Oz” on a Sunday night. Everything seemed normal. My family had finished dinner and were just watching a movie. This was the third time I had seen the film. I loved it.witchBut this time, when the witch appeared in a cloud of orange smoke, a horrible feeling descended on me. I wasn’t afraid of the witch; it wasn’t anything like that. It was much more general. Everything seemed wrong, bad. I couldn’t sit still. I had to stand. I walked across the room – nobody in my family seemed to take any notice – and sat in a chair in the corner. I figured that if I didn’t watch the movie, the feeling would go away. It didn’t.  I left the room and went down the hall and found a hard wooden chair in the dark. I waited there. I moved my legs and looked from one dark place to another, like I was trying to shake being drunk.

New York City

New York City

I waited. It eventually faded. I never directly associated the feeling with anything, but the movie certainly did seem to have brought it on and did not watch any more of the film that night. For the next few years I had two consistent nightmares. One where a witch lived in the basement and another where I would be sucked in between the walls and into the pipes by some sort of foreboding evil. I saw “The Wizard of Oz” again 15 years later. It was incredible; no horrible feelings. I laughed all the way through. It is, in my mind, one of the best films ever made.oz_emerald_city_1